|Maths with Educational Studies|
|Church minister, former maths teacher|
|Newark Baptist Church|
|Charity and voluntary sector|
|Small business (0-49 employees)|
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A day in the life of a Church minister, former maths teacher in the United Kingdom
My current job is totally different to what I envisaged when I started my degree.
Briefly describe the organisation you work for
Inner city secondary schools
A baptist church
What do you do?
Currently I am a Baptist minister; which involves everything from putting the bins out, to feeding people, running a homeless shelter in addition to the things you'd expect like leading church services.
Before that I was a Maths teacher for 15 years. I worked as a head of department, then an advanced skills teacher before retiring through ill health. I trained at least 15 student teachers through their PGCEs and occasionally led sessions on the PGCE course.
Reflecting upon your past employment and education, what led you to your current career choice?
I choose teaching because I did a year out at the end of my degree, which involved a lot of youth work. I really enjoyed working with teenagers; it is challenging at times but they are so much more fun than adults! Having had a major seizure about 5 years ago I had to rethink what I could do. As I recovered I still wanted to work with people but I needed to do that in a more relaxed environment. I was already a church leader at that point, so taking on running the church was a natural progression. I now also run a couple of small charities.
Is your current job sector different from what you thought you would enter when you graduated?
My current job is totally different to what I envisaged when I started my degree. I chose Mathematics with an eye to going into finance. I added the Educational Studies element at the start of my second year. At the end of my degree I knew I didn't really want to work in the city, so I did a year with a voluntary organisation to give me thinking space. It totally changed my perspective on what life is about.
Describe your most memorable day at work
A student hung behind after class, he was obviously worried. When we talked he told me about a medical complaint that he was too embarrassed to tell his parents about, but that was very serious, about the bullying that it caused and about having suicidal thoughts. We talked through his options; the most important thing I said to him was a passing thought that he was 16 and could go to his doctor confidentially on his own. I made the usual referrals to our pastoral team which helped, but most importantly he took the initiative to get medical help. That was nearly 10 years ago, he looked for me on facebook while he was at Uni to say think you. We stay in touch, he is now has a masters and is working in Canada. Things like that don't happen everyday, but they are more common than you would think. Small things you do as a teacher can make a big impact on students lives.
Are there any challenges associated with your job?
There were many challenges associated with working as a teacher. There were the obvious day to day battles over student behaviour. There were the days when things happened to bring home to you what it means that some of the students you work with live in absolute poverty. OFSTED is never fun and there are always times when you think the people you work for should be made to do your job for a week so that they stop saying such daft things! On the whole the satisfaction of seeing people grow, helping students take the opportunities on offer, make it worth it.
The challenges associated with running a church are more emotionally based. I think the hardest thing I've had to do was running a funeral for a lady I had known since my youth. Also although I'm much more my own boss in this role, that means I have to be sensitive to the impact I'm having on others, because adults are much worse at telling you if there's a problem.
What’s your work environment and culture like?
I mostly work independently. I am answerable to a group of leaders in my church, but they trust me to get on with it so it's more the case that I tell them what I think should happen and we talk through the implications or they think about how they can support it. It's a very positive work environment with a lot of encouragement from the people I serve. But there are times when it's hard to be self disciplined. Some tasks are quite lonely, but there are aspects of what I do that involve managing volunteer teams, which is great fun.
What extracurricular activities did you undertake at university and what transferable skills did you develop through these?
I was part of the Christian union; that gave me practice leading worship and Bible studies.
I was a juggler, teaching people to juggle is a fantastic ice breaker.
I did some drama, which is great for building confidence about public speaking/taught me about body language.
I did some voluntary work in my holidays with kids clubs, that helped me better relate to young people.
I travelled to places outside Europe which helped me to appreciate that while cultures differ, people are just people.
What would you like to do next with your career?
I'm currently thinking about whether I can afford to do another degree.
What top tips do you have for York students preparing for today’s job market and life after graduation?
We live in a fluid world, you need to be prepared to change and move with the times. The chances are that you won't have just one career, our generations don't. Value your qualities and skills over your role and never miss an opportunity to develop in new areas. Find out what you love most in life and pursue it. Lots of money can make misery bearable, but it is no substitute for doing something that actually makes you happy.
What topics from students are you happy to answer questions on?
Teaching Maths. Running a Church. How my faith shaped my decisions. Training other people. Being in management. Coping with major changes in life. Living with epilepsy/a hidden disability.
Is there anything else you’d like to tell us?
Everything I've done has shaped me into who I am, even the painful things and it was worth it.
If you like the look of Sara’s profile, the next steps are down to you! You can send Sara a message to find out more about their career journey. If you feel you would benefit from more in-depth conversations, ask Sara to be your mentor.